Senior members of Telfed estimated that the number of Jews immigrating to Israel from South Africa will increase in 2016, the Knesset released Monday. The increase is due to the unstable political and social situation in the country, the depreciation of the local currency and the health tax increase, among other reasons. The South African rand has lost 50 percent of its value in recent years.
Members of the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs visited the offices of Telfed – the South African Zionist Federation – on Monday and learned that while approximately 400 Jews leave South Africa each year, in recent years only 230 of them have immigrated to Israel annually. However, the Telfed officials said, this number is expected to reach 300 in the coming year.
Committee Chairman MK Avraham Nagosa (Likud) praised Telfed’s activities and said its efforts throughout Israel – particularly in Ra’anana, where there is a large concentration of South African immigrants – should serve as an example for successful absorption, which includes supporting families and lone soldiers.
Telfed Chairman Maish Isaacson noted that the organization also assists immigrants from Australia and Holland and provides immigrants with subsidized rental housing. Telfed CEO Dorron Kline mentioned that 235 Jews immigrated to Israel from South Africa in 2015, 155 arrived from Australia, and another 55 made aliyah from Holland. Fifty-five of those immigrants were lone soldiers. Kline further told the committee members that while a decade ago some 90 percent of the Jews who were leaving South Africa relocated to the United States and Australia, today some 50 percent of South African Jews who leave their home country immigrate to Israel.
Shaul, a new immigrant who resides in an absorption center in Ra’anana, said he left South Africa with his family “because we wanted our children to grow up in a Jewish and Israeli atmosphere.”
“We can see the change that our children have undergone in the year since we made aliyah, and this is helped by the community’s embracing atmosphere,” he added.